Bog plants and marginals come in a wide array of colours and shapes offering unparalleled possibilities for planting your pond. A careful selection arranged imaginatively can make the transition from pond to garden appear seamless and adds a whole new dimension to any water feature.
Accommodating these showy plants, with their roots in the water, but their foliage and flowers standing clear of the surface, requires a shelf within the pond, a feature fortunately included in almost all pre-formed shapes and easy enough to construct if you are using a liner. Even if you have inherited an otherwise perfectly good pond without one, all is not lost – and the end result is certainly worth the effort.
Big is Beautiful
If you are creating a pond from scratch and intend to use a liner rather than a pre-formed shape, then you have the greatest flexibility to enjoy the full potential of the bog/marginal shelf. The choice of both position and size is entirely up to you – and if you can afford the space, the bigger the bog plant shelf, the better.
Many pre-formed styles incorporate a bog shelf, but typically these designs are principally intended to maximise the available water for fish – tending to make the provision for marginals rather too scanty and narrow. Unfortunately this leaves little scope for imaginative planting – regimented rows along the ledge being about the best you can hope for – and marred all too often by protruding planting baskets. The best bog plant shelves are specialised, dedicated areas within the pond and the good news is that even if the current provision does not really allow the potential of these marginal and bog plants to be utilised to the full, it is not too difficult a job to make things significantly better.
If the pond design allows, columns of bricks – laid safely and securely to avoid them being easily knocked over – can be used to support a slate or other suitably sized stone to add a new shelf. This sort of arrangement also allows you to have a number of bog shelves, at various different depths, to accommodate a far greater range of marginals and bog plants than would normally be possible in most kinds of prefabricated pond. It also allows far greater flexibility to move plants around, if needs be, to achieve the sort of overall “look” wanted and avoids the problem of what to do when a particular marginal outgrows the space on a narrow ledge or needs a larger basket than the shelf’s depth will take.
It may not be ideal to lose so much open water in a fish pond, but it is just about the only way to have foliage alongside koi and other large carp – planting on a shelf in the shallows stops the fish from being able to get at the plants and root them up. Wide bog shelves are also perfect for attracting wildlife, giving creatures an easy route into and out of the water and a good place to hide.
Whatever the kind of pond – formal, fishy or froggy – there is always scope for including some well chosen marginals and a well designed shelf is the key to getting the most out of what they have to offer. Though it may be a bit of a fiddle creating one in the first place – especially in a pre-existing pond – but well stocked with bog plants, it will repay the effort for years to come.